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The Duke of Clarence Public House Luton

The Clarence about 1950 [WB-Green4/5/Lu/Clar1 ]
The Clarence about 1950 [WB-Green4/5/Lu/Clar1]

Duke of Clarence Public House: 1 Upper George Street, Luton [previously The Five Bells, The Two Brewers and The Clarence Hotel]

The public house which became the Duke of Clarence was originally known as the Five Bells; it was situated in Dunstable Lane, which later became Upper George Street. In March 1779 the premises were conveyed by Elizabeth Irons to Thomas Godfrey Burr, who had bought a brewery in Park Street three years earlier. In his will of 1785 Burr left the public house, now known as the Two Brewers, to his wife Mary for life and then to his children.

During the middle of the 19th century the Two Brewers is mentioned on a number of occasions in the records of the Bedford Quarter Sessions. In 1839 Timothy Lines, who lived at the Two Brewers with his daughter, was accused of stealing a pig from Thomas Smith of Great Bramingham. Lines stated that he had bought the pig from his son William, a pig “jobber” (salesman), for £4. William Lines said he himself had bought the pig from a man on the road between Sundon and Dunstable for £3 and 15 shillings. Elizabeth Odell of Sundon gave evidence that she had seen William Lines with a man wearing a brown “round frock” and holding a pig on a string, and had heard Lines make an offer for the pig. It seems her testimony was not believed as although Timothy Lines was acquitted, William Lines was sentenced to be transported for seven years.

The Clarence Site Plan 1897 [X95/312]
The Clarence Site Plan 1897 [X95/312]

Another case heard in 1843 illustrates the rural character of the surrounding area in the middle of the nineteenth century. Mary Hargreaves wife of John Hargraves, publican of the Two Brewers, appeared at the Quarter Sessions and gave evidence in a case in which two men were charged with stealing an iron pig trough. On 31st October 1842 one of the men, Samuel Day, had come to their house offering to sell her a pig trough cheaply. She told him to come back in the evening and show it to her husband. Day returned with the trough, asking ten shillings for it; she again told him to wait until her husband came home for an answer. Day’s neighbour, labourer Richard Lawrence, said he had seen the trough in Day’s barn, had noticed Day and his co-accused Thomas Hill carrying something heavy in a sack through the gate of a field called Seven Acres into the High Road. He followed them to the Two Brewers, where he saw the trough in a passage at the public house when he went for a pint of beer. Lawrence told the trough’s owner, Joseph King Blundell, what he had seen; Blundell told the police, who recovered the trough from the Two Brewers. Hill was acquitted but Day was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. The Two Brewers was mentioned again at the Quarter Sessions in 1853, when three men met there before collecting some stolen lead which had been left at a small shop opposite the public house. Two of the men turned Queen’s evidence; the third, James Brinklow, was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment.

The Two Brewers remained with the Burr family until 1860, when it was sold along with the rest of Burr’s Brewery to Luton brewer Thomas Sworder. In 1867 Sworder was receiving a rent of £60 for the Two Brewers; by 1889 this had fallen to £50 per annum and the premises were valued at £1400. In 1889/90 the name of the public house was changed from the Two Brewers to the Clarence Hotel. When Thomas Sworder's business was sold to rival brewer John William Green in 1897 the sale catalogue describes The Clarence Hotel as a fully-licensed public house situated close to the Town Hall, brick-built with a slate and tile roof, with a modern front. It contained:

Ground Floor: Large bar with two entrances; saloon bar with separate entrance; dining room with stove, marble mantel and cupboard; small wine store; bar parlour; kitchen with range and cupboard; scullery with sink and copper; large cellar with cask entrance.

Outside: Yard; stabling with four stalls and loft over, dust bin, urinal and w.c.

The tenant was Mr. W. Wright and the rent £40 per annum. The owners of an adjoining orchard and “pightle” (small field) had a right of way through this yard. It was presumably this right of way which was the subject of an agreement between J.W. Green Ltd and C. Dillingham in 1900 releasing easements and correcting the boundary line.

The Clarence about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/Clar1]
The Clarence about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/Clar1]

The pub was held by J. W. Green Limited until 1954 when the company merged with Midlands brewers Flowers and took the Flowers name. When Flowers was taken over by Whitbread in 1962 the public house was still trading at the Clarence Hotel.

At some point after the 1970s the public house changed its name to The Duke of Clarence. It remained open until March 2015 when Luton Borough Council suspended its licence for three months. Bedfordshire Police had applied for a suspension due to “repeated crime and disorder”. The Duke of Clarence did not reopen after this closure.

The Duke of Clarence June 2010
The Duke of Clarence June 2010


  • QSR1838/1/5/9-10: depositions in the case of Thomas and William Lines: 1838;
  • QSR1843/1/5/22-23: depositions in the case of Samuel Day and Thomas Hill: 1843;
  • QSR1853/4/5/14: depositions in case of stolen lead: 1853;
  • LHE 84: abstract of title: 1854;
  • Z660/D/1/4: conveyance of Burr’s Brewery to Thomas Sworder, 1860;
  • X95/283: account of rents of Thomas Sworder's properties: 1867;
  • X95/304: rent share in barrels of public house belonging to Luton Brewery: 1867;
  • X95/287: proposed arrangement of loans of Thomas Sworder & Company: 1889;
  • X95/296: schedule of deeds of properties held by William Anstee as security for £14,000 loan to Thomas Sworder: 1889;
  • X95/309: Abstract of title of Thomas Sworder to brewery, public houses and premises at Luton: 1889;
  • X95/298: schedule of deeds, 1897
  • X95/312: site layout plans of public houses, 1897
  • X95/313-314 and Z210/84: sale catalogue: 1897
  • X95/332: abstract of title: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP1: photocopy conveyance of brewery and public houses from Thomas Sworder to John William Green: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of J.W.Green Limited deeds and documents: c.1949?

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

The Two Brewers:

1806: John Hill
1822-1828: Martha Hill;
??: John Burroughs
1843: John Hargraves
1850-1853: William Sargood;
1872-1877: Thomas Else;
1877: William Henry Gorey;
1889: Lewis Henry Claridge 

The Clarence / The Duke of Clarence:

1890: Turner;
1890: Warner;
1890-1891: Andrews;
1891: Boutwood;
1891-1892: Angel;
1892-1893: Bean;
1893-1894: Charles P Rice;
1894-1898: William Wright;
1898: Townsend;
1898-1901: Winsborough;
1901-1902: Boulton;
1902-1920: James Watson;
1920-1951: Arthur Melville Watson;
1951: Leslie Owen Gomm;
1951: Arthur Charles Brooks;
1956: Richard James Gooch;
1959: Leslie Cyril Booth;
1961: Leslie Cyril Booth and Martin Gerard Rougham;
1961: Martin Gerard Rougham and Robert William Allen;
1962: Robert William Allen and Pearse Christopher Courtney;
1964: Robert William Allen;
1965: Robert William Allen and Thomas O’Shea;
1965: Robert William Allen and James Gill;
1967: Norman Arthur Hards and James Gill;
1968: Norman Arthur Hards;
1969: Norman Arthur Hards and Alan Farthing;
1970: Norman Arthur Hards;
1970: Norman Arthur Hards and Vincent McMahon;
1975: Keith Gibbon Scott-Farnie and Desmond Francis Perry;
1977: Keith Gibbon Scott-Farnie and Joseph Anthony Perry;
1980: Richard Owen West and Joseph Anthony Perry;
1983: Roger George Ernest Coomber and Joseph Anthony Perry;
1983: Roger George Ernest Coomber and Richard Clark;
1985: Keith Budd and Richard Clark;
1986: Graham Dunscombe and Richard Clark;
1987: Graham Dunscombe and John Martin Fitzgerald;
1989: David Evans and John Martin Fitzgerald;
1992: Nicholas Craig Farrimond and John Martin Fitzgerald;
1992: Daniel Thompson and John Martin Fitzgerald
Public House closed March 2015